As moms, it can be difficult to ditch the guilt and take care of ourselves. Here’s how to stop feeling guilty and practice self-care.
I read these posts on Facebook about the mom who’s apologizing (but not really) about not being a good friend right now because she’s focused only on her kids and marriage in this season of her life.
For a long season of my life, I did this too.
I lost myself in raising two kids just 18 months apart, working full time, and being a wife.
Until suddenly, I wasn’t a wife anymore, and those kids went away every other weekend.
Of course, this isn’t the path for everyone. But at some point for all moms, the thick of mothering fades.
And we’re all left wondering who am I? What are my hobbies? Who are my friends?
When I read those posts from the moms “apologizing,” I can’t help but wonder, are they actually sorry, or are they finding an excuse to not take care of themselves?
Mom Guilt and Self Care
I get it – mom guilt can hit you HARD.
I’ve been a work away from home mom. I’ve worked 50+ hours away from home then came home to work some more.
I took my kids to daycare when they were only three months old.
If that wasn’t enough mom-guilt, I’ve been a single mother since my kids were in kindergarten.
I’ve had plenty to feel guilty about in my mom-life.
Through it all, there’s one thing I’ve learned. Sacrificing my needs over my children repeatedly for years isn’t the answer.
We’ve all gotten the message by now: there’s no such thing as balance.
No balance for a mom means our bodies go to work while our heart stays at daycare. Then a couple of hours into work, we realize we forgot to miss our baby because we were so into our work.
And so we follow the same path with self-care. We go for the run or leave town for the conference we want to attend or spend money on ourselves when it’s not sensible and all the while our heart screams no.
Then we come back home, forgetting why we didn’t want to take care of ourselves in the first place.
Steps Towards Guilt-Free Self-Care
Start by simply saying no
Consider what obligations you agree to that are outside your family and you. Is this something that drains your energy, and could be time spent on you?
Watch Your Reactions
Notice your reactions towards your kids when you feel drained emotionally and physically.
Do you tend to yell or snap at your kids?
What simple steps can you take when you’re in the moment for self-care? Some examples include:
- deep breathing – check out the Calm App
- walk around the block
- sit outside for a couple of minutes in prayer
Think of the example you’re setting for your daughter on how to take care of herself. If you have a son, consider how you’re modeling how a mom practices self-care.
How is your health? If you aren’t setting aside any time at all for yourself for self-care, your health can suffer. Health signs as a result of stress and lack of self-care can come in subtly, such as body aches, headaches, stomach issues.
What is your body trying to tell you?
Try an experiment
Make a pact with yourself to say yes to every invitation you receive for the next month. Whether this is coffee out or a walk with a friend, consider first if the opportunity would refresh your soul. If yes, then go and accept the fact that some guiltiness will follow you.
Reach out grandparents about watching your kids. You could be robbing both of them of the opportunity of time they’d like to spend together.
Accept the guilt
When the feeling of guilt comes, give yourself a few seconds to acknowledge the feeling. Tell yourself you’re worth it and move on. Don’t dwell in the thoughts and emotions of negativity.
Does your soul need tending? Attend a small group or weekly Bible study.
How will you overflow God’s love and goodness to others, including your family, if you’re not being poured into by others who love you?
I know when I come home from a conference, my small group, or a coffee with a friend, I’ll come home refreshed and full of grace for my children.
And isn’t that our driving force for everything?